Sunday, June 10, 2012

The twine collection and how it started!

My husband's vocation and avocation is gardening.  It seemed to me that every time, I was headed to the store during the summer, he would ask me to pick up some twine to tie up plants in the garden.  One Christmas season my friend and I were at Restoration Hardware.  While there,  I spotted an extremely large spool of green twine for sale.  I knew immediately that I had found the perfect gift for Gardener Don that Christmas.

When I told the clerk that I wished to purchase it, you would have thought a store alarm had gone off!   Clerks from around the store came to see who was purchasing this one of a kind item.  When it came time to pay what I had thought cost $19.95 actually cost $69.95;  I was too embarrassed to admit that I had misread the price tag.

The spool was so large and heavy one of the male clerks offered to carry it to my car.  When I arrived home, I asked our son to carry it into the house.  The spool was hidden away until Christmas morning.  After all the gifts were open, I told Don to go to the porch where he would find one more Christmas gift for him.   He was surprised and pleased to see the ultimate spool of twine.  We have often joked that the spool will be part of his legacy to his children.  I might add that Don is a saver.  I have found bundles of the twine tucked here and there that he intends to recycle.  No wonder the spool will last forever!

In the photo "Big Green" has been joined by smaller spools of twine for the twine collection display.  Beneath the table that holds the collection is my paternal grandfather's tool box.   I remember seeing it under the kitchen stove in their Chicago three flat.  Legend has it that Grandpa Gerrard had quite a temper.  If he was upset about something,  he would give it a swift kick!

Presently,  the tool box holds garden related items... and a few bundles of twine!

Meg's Helpful Hint!  Any collection will be more impressive,  if you are able to group them in one place.

Friday, May 11, 2012

The Final Installment of the Keepsakes Trilogy

When our girls were little, Don and I spent many Sundays in DeKalb, IL at his aunt and uncle's farm.  The girls loved playing with the old toys that Aunt Molly kept in the front closet for them.  It always struck me how much they enjoyed playing with these simple toys.

Nothing was ever wasted at the farm.  Junk mail was saved for the art projects.  The girls would place one of the recycled papers on the raised pattern oilcloth at the kitchen table and do a rubbing with their crayons.

As a young mom, it was a day of rest and gladness to be in this peaceful setting.

At meal time a "simple supper", as Aunt Molly put it, was served.  Most everything we ate was grown in their garden.  Baking bread was a daily ritual for her.

Most visits there ended with Don loading some treasure in our car.  Some of our favorite treasures were a butter churner, a coffee mill, and trunks.  Anything I would ask about she would offer to give it to me.  If I would protest, she would say "That will be one less thing for me to dust!"

One Sunday, Aunt Molly asked me to go to the basement pantry for some pickles.  It was then that I spied the mother lode of farm treasures.  It was a Hoosier kitchen cabinet.  Don remembered it being in the summer kitchen of his aunt and uncle's Schaumburg farm.  When Aunt Molly and Uncle Art moved to the DeKalb farm, it ended up in the basement.  Seizing the moment, I asked if we could buy it.  The next time we were at the farm she told us we could buy it.  I couldn't believe my ears when she told me that she wanted $65 for it.   That is what she paid her brother Ben for it when he had fallen on hard times and needed money.

For many years the Hoosier was in our dining room.  One day when I was "playing house", I thought it would work best for us on the porch.  All the original items that came with the cupboard are intact.  Three seasons of the year, we enjoy eating on the porch.  The cupboard holds the dishes that we use for daily use and entertaining.

I thank God for Aunt Molly and Uncle Art for opening their hearts and home to our family at that special time in our lives.

Meg's Helpful Hint...Don't miss an opportunity to speak up for a family keepsake.  If I hadn't, it would have been auctioned off at the farm sale years later.  It pleased Aunt Molly to know that we would make a place for it in our home.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Part Two of the Keepsake Trilogy

The secretary desk was the first piece of furniture my folks bought after they were married.  I remember it being in the living room of my childhood homes.  I also remember sitting next to my dad at that desk learning my multiplication tables.  My dad was so patient --- drilling me until I knew them.

When the desk came to be part of our home's furnishing, it was in excellent condition.   It didn't take long to break it in to our lifestyle.  Our dog liked to play ball in the living room.  Invariable the ball would end up under the desk.  Reilly would try to retrieve his wayward ball by chewing at the base.  It required a family member to get it out.  Our oldest daughter suggested that we install Plexiglas at the base so Reilly wouldn't be frustrated trying to get his ball.  Now that would have been a good look!

I often wondered, if one of our children damaged our furniture, if we would have been so understanding to them.   Speaking of children, I am not sure which one of them will make room for the secretary in their home.   All I know is I am thankful that we made good use of it in our home.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

I am my mother!

Looking back at childhood pictures, I remember my mother's decorating style.  She had beautiful mahogany furniture, oriental rugs, crystal lamps and silver.   When I was first married, I wanted to go the direct opposite of the decor in my childhood home because I wanted to have my own look.  However, some family heirlooms that show up in many of my childhood pictures have been a constant in our home decor through out the years. One is a secretary desk that was the first piece of furniture my folks bought for their home.  The second, from my husband's childhood, is a Hoosier cupboard that belonged to his aunt and uncle.  The third is a Cloisonne vase that was a wedding gift to my parents, and it is the focus of this post. 

The vase was always in our living room throughout my childhood.  Usually, my mother would put fresh flowers in it from our garden.  In our home it holds florals that I change seasonally.  The photo I am sharing shows this year's spring arrangement.  Here is where I give you "Meg's helpful hint"...In one of the floral design classes that I took at COD, I learned an arrangement should be one and a half times the height of the container.   Learning this one trick helped me to showcase this beautiful vase to its best advantage and truly make it the focal point of our living room.

I am so thankful that I was smart enough to hold on to some of these family heirlooms despite my desire to decorate my home in my own style.  I have been surprised at how well these items have fit in to every style we had throughout the years. Now here's how I am my mother.  I have come full circle.  The type of furnishings (mahogany, oriental rugs, silver) that were found in my childhood home have found their way to my home today. I love to look at these pieces and remember loved ones and fond memories, and I am hoping that my own children can someday incorporate some of these pieces into their homes and remember.

Friday, March 16, 2012


Spring is definitely in the air!  After our long winter's nap the question is what to do first!  The inside of the house has been stripped of winter decor.  I am not quite ready to open up the storage containers...yes, I said containers of spring things to decorate our home.  Mostly, I want to be outside breathing in the fresh air and taking in the signs of spring in our yard.  Both my husband and I love to our yard.  It definitely is a big job!  We are a good team in that he does the planting and I am in charge of weeding!  Some times, I don't recognize the new seedling and it gets pulled out!  Don has taken to marking these endangered plants with Popsicle sticks to keep them safe from THE WEEDER!  He has already started planting vegetables in the garden.  I am torn between what I could be doing outside in the yard and all the things that need to be done inside!  Here is my tip for this blog!  Get outside!  Dine El Fresco!  We enjoyed our first dinner outside on our new and improved patio Tuesday night!   How many bug free days will we have to enjoy?  Don't waste them!  Mother Nature is full of surprises.  She could have more winter in store for us!  

Here are the pictures that I promised of our booth at the mall decked out for Spring 2012!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Why am I blogging?

I wasn't exactly dragged kicking and screaming into blogland!  Two of my daughters have blogs.  Nothing pleases me more in the morning along with my two cups of coffee than checking in to read what our amazing grandchildren are doing,

My favorite blogs are posted on the sidebar of my blog.  Each one of them has inspired me in some way!  Again the question why am I blogging?  Who am I?  What do I know that is worthy to share?  My comment to that is to say, "I love to tell people what to do!"  Nothing pleases me more than to have the opportunity to talk to someone just starting out,  either in their first apartment or a first time home owner.  My advice to them is to check out the family basement, garage, and attic to furnish their home.  Please ask permission!   Resale shops, antique malls, and last but not least curbside treasures are also places to find the perfect accessory!

How many of you registered for fine china and silver when you were getting married,  only to find out in a few years you either don't use it or love it anymore?  Looking back on our home decor in pictures, I have to smile and some times laugh out loud at my attempts at decorating through the years.  Our tastes change and we are some what dictated to by magazines as to what our home should look like.

If I can help someone by suggesting what has worked for me,  then my blogging will have served its
purpose.   I hope that you will be able to check out Antiques of Winfield where Cathy and I have our booth.  There are more than forty dealers displaying their wares.  You just might find the perfect thing for your home.  The item may be used and abused,  but the price is right!  Think of it this way, you won't have to worry about getting that first scratch on furniture that you bought brand new and paid full price.

There is an expression, "a picture is worth a thousand words!"  In this blog, no picture but close to a thousand words!  Enough said!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What season is it?

You can thank me for this mild winter! I decided to leave our porch tree up for the remainder of the winter season. How lovely to look out on the lighted tree with a back drop of snow falling.  We did have one snow fall of winter 2012 to enjoy the ambiance!  As of two weeks ago all the plants that Don carried over during the winter under lights in the basement arrived on our back porch!  Is it winter?  Is it spring?  I am so confused!  Actually, Don thanks me for all my plant stands this time of year!  There will be even more plants on the porch in the coming weeks!  I try to turn a blind eye to the chaos right now and remember how wonderful it will be when the plants move out to the garden.  Soon enough,  we will be sitting on the porch and winter will be a distant memory. 

Now here is a question for you.  If I take the Christmas tree down and we get the Blizzard of 2012 are you going to blame me?

Spring is coming to our booth at the mall!

It was very flattering to be asked by Cathy Clauson to share a booth at Antiques of Winfield this past November.  Cathy is a magnet for finding "great stuff!"  My contribution to the booth will be a combination of purging from our home's nooks and crannies and excess seasonal decorations.  It makes for a very interesting my opinion!  Thursday is my target date to decorate our booth with bunnies, vintage baskets, eggs, chicks, plaques and so much more.  I thought I would give you a photo sneak peek of what will be there.  What I am working on today is finishing up painting some items for the booth.  I love to paint!  Especially since I have been introduced to Annie Sloan Paint.  No prepping!  That is my kind of paint!  Once everything is in place in the booth, I will take more pictures to post.  Now, I must clear the dining room table (my workshop) and get to work.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

March Mantle

For years, I have had to work with a narrow mantle.  Over a year ago, a church friend/artist redesigned and made a new mantle for us.  Imagine the fun I am having working with this enlarged space!  Seasonal decorating in our home has always been a fun outlet for me.  This picture shows my St. Patrick's Day mantle for this year.  Am I the only one who takes a picture, and even posts it, only to go back and change it in some way?  I guess that's where "Good, Better, Best" comes in.  :)